The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

December 12, 2013

Civil Air Patrol official corrupted girl, police say

HERMITAGE — A Mercer County official of the Civil Air Patrol has been charged with corrupting a 15-year-old girl member of the group by offering to buy her a sexually explicit movie and telling her she has a sexually transmitted disease, Hermitage police said.

James A. Vessella, 67, of 106 17th St., Pymatuning Township, denied the allegations and said he believes the girl made them up because he advised her to break up with her boyfriend, police said.

Vessella was charged with corruption of a minor and unlawful contact with a minor. He has posted bail and faces a preliminary hearing at 9:15 a.m. Dec. 19 before District Judge Ronald E, Antos, Farrell.

Vessella, who has the rank of major in CAP, is public affairs officer for Region 6, which includes Mercer County, and is commander of Mercer County Composite Squadron 122. He was PAO of the Year for 2010.

Police said they were notified Oct. 11 by Mercer County Children and Youth Services of the allegations and interviewed the victim.

The girl said she has been in the CAP group that meets in Hermitage for about a year. Vessella started pulling her aside in September and talking to her about personal issues, and she told him she had a boyfriend and was sexually active, police said.

The girl said she met Vessella at a local restaurant and he told her he had a “slutty” movie she could watch for educational purposes, police said.

On Oct. 10, Vessella went to the girl’s home and told her that her boyfriend had given her an infection and was cheating on her, police said.

Vessella said he needed to examine the girl’s vagina; that she should break up with her boyfriend; and that she should buy a vibrator or dildo and could use the computer at his house to make the purchase, police said.

He also told the victim she could use a vaginal wash at his house and that he had the movie for her, police said.

Police said they interviewed Vessella Oct. 15 and he denied meeting the girl at the restaurant; offering to buy her the movie; offering to examine her genitals; saying she had an STD; or inviting her to his house.

He also claimed he had never been alone with the girl, but she and her mother reported he had given the girl rides, police said.

Vessella admitted going to the girl’s house Oct. 10 to check up on her because she had not been at the previous CAP meeting, police said.

He also admitted knowing the girl was sexually active with adult males, police said.


Text Only
Local News
  • Firm will study timing of traffic signals

    Hermitage commissioners on Wednesday hired Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP to study the timing scheme of traffic signals along parts of Hermitage Road and East State Street.

    July 25, 2014

  • 3 area fire depts. awarded grants

    Three area fire departments will share in more than $590,000 in grants meant to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced.

    July 25, 2014

  • One suspect in home shooting is jailed

    The first of three suspects police say were involved in an attempted robbery that ended in a shooting is in jail.

    July 25, 2014

  • Dancing kids K.I.D.S. day

    Hoping to reach children at just the right age, when they are old enough to understand but not past the point where it may be too late, Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission counselors held an “alternative activities” day at the courthouse Thursday, complete with music and dancing, hot dogs and treats, games and T-shirts.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014